Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s announcement Tuesday night that new
elections will be held early next year set off a predictable flurry of political
activity. With the balloting set to be held in just three or four months,
Knesset hopefuls face the daunting prospect of trying to get their message out
to the general public in an unusually condensed time-frame.
But for all
the clamor and clatter that we will surely be subjected to during the upcoming
campaign, it will be difficult to escape the gnawing feeling that not very much
will change the morning after the votes are counted.
After all, Netanyahu
does not face any serious competition in the race for the premiership and is all
but certain to return to the Prime Minister’s Office for a third term. And
recent polls indicate that the parties comprising the current coalition will
come back to parliament largely intact.
Indeed, much of the drama,
however fleeting it might be, will take place largely among the irrelevant
opposition, where Kadima is likely to splinter into pieces just as a meteor
burns up when it returns to earth.
Yair Lapid, Tzipi Livni and perhaps
even Ehud Olmert may try to build a center-left grouping to attract the Kadima
disaffected, but ultimately this will hardly matter much over the next four
So just what, then, is there to get excited about? Should this
election elicit little more than a collective yawn? Absolutely not! In fact,
Israel is about to turn a new page, one that will be remembered as a political
and national milestone for generations to come. Put simply, Netanyahu is about
to make history by cementing the position of Israel’s Right as the leading
political force in the country.
Over the past four years, he shattered
the myth that the Left is the only responsible clique capable of wielding the
reins of power. By successfully navigating the global economic crisis and deftly
handling an increasingly hostile world, the prime minister has brought a
steadiness and maturity to the administration of the affairs of state that
several of his predecessors were sadly lacking. Consequently, he has instilled
the public with a sense of confidence in the ability of a decidedly right-wing
coalition to manage our national affairs.
This is no small feat,
particularly in light of the hostile Israeli mainstream media, which seems to
feel that the levers of power belong solely in the hands of their ideological
comrades on the Left.
Remember how they used to paint the government as a
band of extremists and religious zealots who could not be trusted to run a
mini-market, let alone the country? Those empty smears have largely disappeared,
for the simple reason that they do not resonate with an electorate that knows
With the failure of the peace process and the demise of the
delusion of a “two-state” solution to the Palestinian conflict, the Left is in
decline and disarray.
Their dream of dividing the land of Israel has been
shattered, and their belief in the false messiah of the Palestinian Authority
has crashed hard on the rocks of reality. The Left is a spent political force
whose only means of hijacking headlines nowadays is to protest the price of
cucumbers and cottage cheese.
But breakfast is not a political platform,
and that is why voters have abandoned it in droves.
As a result, the
overwhelming majority of Israeli Jewish votes in the 2013 election will go to
centrists (or leftists posing as centrists) and to the Right.
then, has presided over a seismic political shift, deflating the significance of
Israel’s Left even as he has bolstered the long-term fortunes of the Right.
Sure, the man has his flaws and has made his share of mistakes, and a number of
his policies have disappointed people on ideological and practical grounds. But
he has fundamentally transformed the image of Israel’s Right, burnished its
reputation and asserted its legitimacy.
A stronger Right means a prouder
Israel, a nation that will put its interests first and not kowtow slavishly to
the demands of its foes. It signifies a confidence and poise, an assertiveness
and self-assurance that Israel sorely needs as it confronts myriad threats both
at home and abroad.
For this reason alone, Netanyahu deserves another
four years in power. No wonder, then, that the Israeli electorate is about to
give him just that.